Starfish Varadero

Starfish Varadero
3.113.113.113.113.11
3.11 based on 738 reviews
#46 of 63 hotels The Monarc.ca popularity scale (#1/15) classifies all the hotels of a single destination according to the number of grades received on 5 and the total number of reviews. in Varadero
Rated 3 stars
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Starfish Varadero

, Toronto, ON
2021-09-14
The hotel is beautiful, my friends and I all had bungalows by the pool area. The staff treated us like kings. The entire staff are amazing people and show lots of love to the tourists. The food was so so so good. Especially the food by the beach for lunch time. The ocean was as clear and blue as can be. The entertainment in the evening was always fun and the sports bar for the night time was always full of people enjoying each other's company while drinking Havana rum. We all had an amazing experience at starfish Varadero. To the staff Thank-you for everything you do. We hope to see you all again soon. SALUTE [Details]
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Certified

Perfect vacation

, Sherbrooke, QC
2021-08-31
This hotel has everything for everyone and every ages. Well displayed and though of. The staff goes out of their ways so our stay is the best.
My very first time at this hotel and believe me it will not be my last.
It is an hotel that you can go and relax or party ( when COVID will be over. [Details]
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The strong points
Great staff Food is excellent Great activities for everyone and every age.
The weak points
Some staff will ask (often) for some medication.
Sanitary measures (Covid-19)
They take all the measures - wearing their mask sometimes 2 of them. We need to wear our mask 24 hrs until we get our results then we can take it off, we only have to wear our mask when we go to the buffet or restaurant à la carte.
Certified

4th Trip. Little disappointed with Starfish.

, Trenton, ON
2020-03-02
Little disappointed this time around with resort. Was our 4th trip to Starfish. We had requests for our Special needs Daughter. We requested a certain bungalow to accommodate her needs. They always took care of us on past visits. Unfortunately they told us it was not available this time. I don't understand why not. We booked 3 1/2 months in advance. Request was sent in when we booked. They should look after there repeat customers. They had lots of notice! Besides that. Vacation was good. The staff at Starfish keep bringing us back. Great people. Starfish just needs to look after the repeat guest. Especially guest that has request because they have disability's. [Details]
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The strong points
Staff are fantastic.
The weak points
Starfish just needs to look after the repeat guest. Especially guest that have request because they have disability's.

Starfish Varadero

, St. Albert, AB
2020-02-18
This was my third time at the Starfish Varadero and I will be going back again. Everytime I have gone there I pay the extra few dollars to stay in the bungalows as they are closer to everything and you have so much more room.
It is an older resort so you do need to expect things to be a little run down and rough around the edges, but for me that is all part of the Cuban experience. I go for the beaches and the people and the entertainment, all of which is 5 star. [Details]
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The strong points
The staff is amazing and they always go out of their way to remember you and keep you happy.
The weak points
It is an older resort, so things are a little run down and in disrepair. The toilet leaked, the curtains were coming off the curtain rod, the coffee maker in the room didn't work well, the safe in the room was difficult to open, but everything functions.
Certified

A decent stay

, Toronto, ON
2019-09-20
The resort was better than the last one I stayed at in Varadero.

Only thing I wish I knew before booking this trip was the limit on the resort's restaurants for how many times you could go. I have not experienced this in other resorts in Jamaica or st. Lucia. [Details]
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The strong points
Nice and friendly staff
The weak points
Shortage of food in the snack bars while I was there but it wasn't the resort's fault. Main downside for me was the distance from the resort to downtown Varadero
Certified

Will not return to this resort

, Toronto, ON
2019-08-05
This resort is rundown. There seems to be no care or pride in the place. We've been to other resorts where constant cleaning was going on ... not here. All kinds of things broken on the grounds that would be easy fixes that are left neglected.
The worse part was the buffet restaurant which is totally enclosed and infested with flies!!! Had to use the buffet for breakfast and most dinners. Able to avoid for lunch.
Beach was fantastic so we would definitely return to the area but go to another resort. [Details]
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The strong points
Beach is fantastic!!!
The weak points
Buffet restaurant was infested with flies, avoid as much as possible!!!
Certified

Starfish was absolutely TERRIBLE

, Cambridge, ON
2019-05-04
Dirty, poorly kept, missing toilet seats, missing door handles, no toilet paper. One beach towel for the entire week. No Ice ever!!! Drinks sucked and were warm. One bottle of water in room per day for 3 people. No help when u ask empty fridge in room always. Grounds and pools unkept, dead flowers Nothing but NASTY! Had Nikes stolen too [Details]
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The strong points
No strong points
The weak points
EVERYTHING!!! Wasted my $$$ sooo gross! Lots of smokers.
Certified

Our stay at Starfish Varadero

, Montréal, QC
2019-04-05
Wonderful time during our stay except for our visit to the Italian ( A - laCarte) restaurant. Our first negative experience that we have ever had at a restaurant in around 20 visits to Cuba. The service was unacceptably slow considering the place was half full, waited a half hour just to get our first glass of water/ wine, then just as long for re- fills after asking.
The head waitress was quite rude with us with no apologies. The food was acceptable at best, not to mention that one of us got the wrong dessert.. Compared to the International, which was top notch, the Italian failed terribly. [Details]
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The strong points
Entertainment , piano lounge and terrace was excellent. Pools and room were clean. International restaurant was exceptional
The weak points
No beach towels all week, water features not all operational, many outdoor light fixtures broken, some interior in need of cleaning/ painting
Certified

Old and dirty

, Regina, HA
2019-03-25
The buffet area needs a good cleaning. This hotel is at best a 2 star. Most of the people at the front desk are nice. We did have a complaint about our towels and the one lady was annoyed that we were asking for new ones. Also when you exchange your money at the front desk, PAY ATTENTION, they tried shorting us twice. Some of the servers at the buffet could care less if you have anything to drink so you are left to ask or get it yourself.
The food at the buffet was acceptable but the flies are numerous. We also had to pass over on a few plates to find a clean one. [Details]
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The strong points
The beach is nice. They are building a new beach bar.
The weak points
The buffet needs cleaning. The rooms could use a little TLC. In the evening the Bungalows are very noisy as they are by the nightly entertainment.
Certified

DÉSUET

, Saint-Eustache, QC
2019-03-14
CETTE HÔTEL NE DEVRAIT PAS ÊTRE EN VENTE. PAS PROPRE ET LES CHAMBRES SONT LAIDES ET DESUETTE. STARFISH, PAS RECOMMANDER [Details]
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Not the best but not the worst either.

, Dugald, HA
2019-02-23
Nothing could stop us from having a great time in Cuba. Overall this resort was moderate. Parts of the resort are not yet renovated and are very old looking. We stayed in a newer section and didn't really have too many issues. Our room never had enough towels but was clean. The view from our balcony was looking across to another building. The landscape below was not nice.
The staff were all so nice and welcoming.
The food was just ok. You could usually find something you could eat. The omelettes in the morning were always good. The supper options were not very good. Pasta was often the best option. It seems to be the same stuff every night.
All in all it was just ok. Don't think we would return here although we had a good time. [Details]
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The strong points
This resort was fairly clean, had lots of space to gather, two beautiful pool areas, kind staff. The appreciation supper was a nice touch.
The weak points
Poor service at the buffet which seemed to be due to lack of staff, very limited clean beach towels, struggle to get enough clean towels in our room, poor supper buffet.
Certified

Terrible Beach Bar Service

, Toronto, ON
2019-02-10
The customer service at the beach was terrible. They would close early, run out of beer/ice and had a terrible attitude (Specifically, one male server) about servicing the customer. [Details]
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The strong points
Great entertainment.
The weak points
Terrible Beach bar service.
Certified

We traveled on Jan 26 to Feb. 2 2019

, Trenton, ON
2019-02-05
We traveled on Jan 26 to Feb. 2 2019
We have been in this hotel 3 times now and was happy to see how much everything was improved each time we go.The food was good and variety of it could satisfy everyone. Garden and beach were clean and perfect. Chairs on beach and near the pool were new and plenty. I would like to thank all staff for doing excellent job in this hotel and especially management ?
We had a perfect vacation and I already thinking of returning next year. Nice touch Starfish for the letter and bottle of Rum left in our room for Returning customers. Its the little things like this that matter. ;-) Have any quest feel free to Contact me. Paul. sknkmn@hotmail.com [Details]
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The strong points
Was happy to see how much everything was improved each time we go

Starfish Varadero

, Calgary, AB
2019-01-03
Not at ALL and experience to write home about!
The cleanliness of this hotel is lacking to say the least.
I had to switch rooms three times to get a half decent one, also had to rip all the sheets and bedding off and march it up to front desk to prove that this was not acceptable (see pictures), and no toiletries even.
By day three we would go to order off the menu, only to be told they don't have it, the list of don't have's were longer then what they did have.
I get that Cuba is not one for flavor or spice with the food but to have it served to you completely uncooked is not acceptable either (Spoons a la carte - surf and turf - lobster and steak - raw)
And the stench coming from the lobby when you had to frequent it with complaints and get decent wifi was beyond words (see pictures).
The maids and bathroom cleaning staff would ask guests to get them drinks (beer) from the bar so they could enjoy a drink and a cigarette in the room / bathrooms while on the clock. There is no management or quality control on this resort what so ever. [Details]
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The strong points
Beach and Bar/Kitchen Staff
Certified

Excellent

, Gatineau, QC
2018-11-11
This was our second time here and we definitely noticed several improvements and renovations. We once again stayed in a bungalow. They have not yet been renovated but are perfectly fine and close to everything. The food is fine and there is always something good to eat. The staff, in all areas, are just simply amazing. Always smiling and ready to help you. I would definitely return to this hotel. We even had a special supper of lobster and steak for repeat guests which was excellent and very much appreciated. The beach of course is just gorgeous and clean. [Details]
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The strong points
SERVICE, beach and smiles.
The weak points
None
Certified

Starfish Varadero

, Mississauga, ON
2018-10-09
Hotel is getting new face lift with many renovations. Omelets and lobsters were as good as those in 5* resorts in Mexico. The staff was very friendly and helpful. [Details]
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The strong points
No single supplement
The weak points
The weather was terrible, tropical rains for most of the time. They had to cancel many outdoors events.
Certified

AMAZING RESORT

, Toronto, ON
2018-07-09
Amazing beach, very large hotel, clean pools, good food, very good drinks, the gardens are very spacious and it is a good place to visit with the family.
the a la carte restaurants the best. [Details]
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The strong points
The beach is the best of the hotel, amazing, beautiful, the best beach in Cuba.
The weak points
a lot of waiting at the airport

Not what we expected

, Scarborough, ON
2018-07-02
My boyfriend and I decided to stay in a 3 star resort to save money.. but we will never make that mistake again.

We arrived at approx. 9pm. The resort looked really nice as we pulled up in the shuttle. Check in was very easy. It is 1 peso for wifi for 1 hour and you can only get wifi in the buffet and upstairs in the lobby by the bar. There was very little lighting throughout the resort which made it difficult to find our room. We arrived in our room and every room had chairs on their patio but ours. We had also upgraded to a bungalow suite. It was very close to the beach which was convenient but the room itself was average. It had a "common area" with a table, a couch, a mini fridge that only had 1 bottle of water per day, which is personally not enough for two people considering the heat.

We went on two excursions and both times we returned to the resort there was a power outage. The first power outage took over 5 hours to turn back on, as the staff thought they "fixed" the problem. We had no air conditioning or lights which was brutal.

There was also a lot of tiny ants around the sink area which was impossible to get rid of. The cleaning staff didn't change the towels the entire stay.. they refolded them and left them in our room. The bed sheets and pillow cases was the same thing. Our pillow cases were dirty and had dried blood on them. The only good thing about the cleaning staff was that they gave you a new bottle of water every day and they did cool designs with the bed sheets and towels (hearts, swans, etc). The shower water pressure is very poor but you can flush toilet paper in the toilet without it clogging which is good!

The food is horrible. There isn't much variety, a lot of seafood. There is only two a la' carte restaurants (seafood and italian). The after hours snack bar is VERY HOT. There is no air conditioning and the food is very limited (only ham sandwiches and burgers/hotdogs). There are a few bars (the beach, the disco, the pool, the lobby) which is convenient.

The beach was beautiful. Not one palm tree on the beach though.

The pool is also very nice and we found out second last day that there was a second pool on the other side of the resort. The beach towels hut has horrible hours and never has clean towels. Bring your own towel!

The gym is useless, might as well do your own beach workout.

Downtown Varadero is extremely safe, we felt very comfortable leaving the resort. The hotel staff were very nice and very helpful. It is extremely easy to get a cab in the lobby. We also rented scooters and rode downtown for 20 pesos for 3 hours. We tried to make the most of the trip.

Overall, we would not stay here again, 5 stars only. [Details]
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Poor quality rooms, Dirty restrooms public areas

, Guelph, ON
2018-05-24
My wife and I wanted to get away for the Canadian Victoria Day long weekend, so we decided to go for a short trip to Cuba.

The issues we had were:
- Problem with our rooms, no big deal but they are just poor or average quality, flooded Restroom
- Restrooms in Public areas were not functioning well, sometimes very dirty, scarce toilet paper or none
- Locals very abusive at the buffet, grabbing all the food they could and the rest of us just witnessing the abuse
- In Restaurants and Bars you had to always tip to get "better service" or at least get service

BUT THE REAL ISSUE I AM WRITING THIS REVIEW IS THE FOLLOWING:

Our handbag with the Passports was stolen and then returned "mysteriously" to us.

At the beginning, we did not want to report this as stolen because in part it was a little oversight from us but this is the whole story:

On Sunday May 20, 2018 we were at our last day of the mentioned short vacation to Varadero, Cuba.

That day around 4:45 pm, we went to have lunch at one of the restaurants in front of the pool, this is called "Cabana Bar". We noticed a lot of "locals" were there that afternoon. We had lunch there and we put our handbag on the floor with the Passports inside while we were eating (this was our mistake, putting the handbag on the floor).

We left that Restaurant around 5:15 pm (forgetting the handbag on the floor). We did not miss the handbag at that moment because you know you are on "vacation mode" and somehow your routine changes. In our mind was to walk to the beach one last time and say "goodbye" to the beautiful ocean. We stayed on the beach until 5:50 pm then we went to have coffee to the main Restaurant "Griddle" to have one last cup of coffee and snacks. We left that place around 6:20 pm because we had to be ready for the shuttle to the Airport.

This is when we noticed we did not have the handbag and we panicked because the Passports were inside the handbag and we would not be able to leave that day. It was a horrible situation, we immediately alerted Security at the hotel, the front desk, we were like crazy asking everybody if they had seen the handbag.

We went back to the Customer Service office and report this situation, like we said at the beginning we did not want to say the handbag was stolen because we had the hope that somebody would return it to us.

At around 7:30 pm Customer service told us to wait and try to calm down and book another night so the next day we could go to the Canadian consulate in Varadero to see what we could do to go back to Canada. The problem was that Monday would be closed due to the Victoria Day holiday. We mentioned to them that we should report the incident to the Police since the Passport is very sensitive information. They said don't worry you don't need to do that, wait for tomorrow, calm down. The Police will not help you with this.

We were not comfortable with these instructions that's why I sent an e-mail around 8:00 pm to the e-mail of the Canadian Consulate in Varadero (almost 3 hours after the handbag was left at the Restaurant) and then also called to the Emergency # in Ottawa for lost passports and they told me we had to report this to the police.

We went back to Customer Service around 8:20 pm and we mentioned that we need to call the police, so we told the lady to call the police, she did not want to do it and I told her that I had already reported over the phone & e-mail the missing Passports and that the person in Ottawa told me to call the police.

IT WAS in that moment that somehow they panicked and reacted, because to us it seemed there was a collusion between the personnel at the hotel and the person (s) that took the handbag. So suddenly after 2 minutes they told us "we found your handbag" a miracle ???? Because we mentioned "CALL the Police". A security guard gave us the handbag and luckily everything was there.

It was clear to us that we were targeted, because our last names are of latin origin and as you know would be very easy to alter the passports or do something wrong with them.

Going forward, I hope you could warn Canadians citizens of having to go through this ordeal as we did. We were lucky because we could speak Spanish to the hotel personnel and we somehow defended ourselves.

THIS HOTEL "STARFISH VARADERO" SHOULD BE REPRIMANDED OR SOME ACTION MUST BE DONE TO AVOID THIS TO HAPPEN AGAIN

We are sorry but this is a wake up call for us, we will never go back to Cuba. [Details]
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The strong points
Beautiful Beach
The weak points
- Poor quality rooms - Public restrooms dirty, scarce toilet paper or none - Locals very abusive at the buffet and entertainment activities - Bad service in Bars and Restaurants

Good Value for the Money

, Truro, NS
2018-05-23
The Starfish Veraderro offers great value for the money. The beach is terrific. This is my second year here and many improvements have been made since last year. I highly recommend paying the few extra dollars to get a bungalow as they are spacious, and closer to beach, buffet, and entertainment. If you are looking for gourmet food, this is not the place to go. The food is more than adequate and there is a wide variety of dishes to choose from. Look the other way if a bird lands on your table and consider this part of the Cuban way of life. Most of the staff is very very friendly and these folks work hard. So accept things for what they are, enjoy the beautiful weather, beach, and turquoise water, and be grateful that you are free to travel to Cuba for a relaxing vacation. This place is great value for the money! [Details]
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Certified

Better than the 1st trip!

, Trenton, ON
2018-02-22
Better than the 1st trip!

This is our 2nd visit to Starfish Varadero.
Last visit was March 2017. You can see great improvements all over Starfish.
Food has improved. They have cleaned up the resort. New paint. Improvements going on all over!
We returned this year because of how great the staff was last year. They did not disappoint us. Starfish sent bottle of Champagne to our bungalow. We celebrated our 30 wedding anniversary this trip.
Wife wants to go back again next winter. Will be exciting to see how much more Starfish has improved in 1 years time.

Thanks goes out to all the staff that makes it such a fantastic place for our vacation.

See you next year. Paul Donna MacKenzie. [Details]
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The strong points
Beach and Staff
The weak points
Working on fixing resort.

Stay away

, Barrie, QC
2018-01-07
This hotel is absolutely disgusting!! Do not even know where to start. Arrived there on Dec 23, took forever to check in because everyone was upgrading to other rooms...should have been an indication to run! Checked in (2 rooms) and went to our rooms, opened the door and the room looked so run down and dirty. Went down to upgrade rooms and was told it would cost me $1200, I was willing to pay. Told to wait to see what was left, come back later. Came back and still no answer, told to go for lunch and then come back, so we did. No place to upgrade to at this point. Rooms were dirty (no renos done on this side at all), one bed had dead flies on the sheets, my adult kids slept with their clothes on, towels covered in mold, food was room temperature; both cold and hot, nothing on ice. Given a beach towel from our room...still had the same towel 3 days later, never any towels...staff sat in the shack all day telling you times to come back; no idea why because never saw a towel from there! Most times there was no money at front exchange counter, no ice anywhere on the "resort"-using that word loosely.
On Dec 24 met my rep, told her what was happening and that I did not sign up for this type of accommodation. Asked her to see about moving my family from this gross place. She contacted the head office and on Dec 26 they were able to move us to 6 other resorts, I choose the place that was referred to me and checked out ASAP!! Would recommend that people keep their money and go elsewhere. Maybe when the renos are completed it might may it to a 3 star, right now it is a 1 or less!!! [Details]
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The strong points
See above-none
The weak points
See above plus lots of drunks
Certified

Don't Go Here With a Family

, Toronto, ON
2018-01-05
I have been to Cuba over 10 times. Mostly to Varadero. This is the first time I brought my children. I definitely won't be going to Starfish Varadero again. We were given a bedroom with 3 single beds for a family of 4. 3 pillows, 3 towels. There was no hot water and the bathroom door was broken and my daughter got stuck inside. I had to use all my strength to open the door to get her out. We asked to move rooms and were told we could move the next day. The next day we were met with uncooperative staff and excuses. We approached our travel representative onsite and requested to be moved to a different resort. This was accommodated and we swiftly departed Starfish Varadero for Memories. A move that we were all extremely happy with. [Details]
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The strong points
The pools and the beach looked very nice.
The weak points
Rooms were dated. Unfriendly staff (I should mention that I would be unfriendly too as we were amongst MANY people unhappy. The buffet was dreadful (in comparison to other Cuban resorts with similar features). Cockroaches visible etc.
Certified

Great vacation

, Victoriaville, QC
2017-12-09
We arrived at Starfish Varadero at noon. Check in was slow, but the room was ready. We were 3 sisters travelling together and we were pleasantly surprised that we had been upgraded to a bungalow free of charge. I had read a lot of comments about how big the resort was, but it was comparable to other resorts I had visited in the past. Food was the usual Cuban fare. Some of the wait staff were better than others. We tried both of the a-la-carte restaurants. I found the surf and turf at Spoons was a little over cooked, but our meals at Milans were amazing. So was our waitress - sorry I forgot her name. Our housekeeper did a great job. We did have to ask for extra coffee cups and towels since the bungalow was only set up for 2 people, and we were three, but this was dealt with quickly. Room was comfortable, but we didn't spend a lot of time there. Beach was amazing. We liked having the craft shops located at the resort. [Details]
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The strong points
beach, craft shops on site, Milans
The weak points
slow check in, some wait staff were not as attentive as they should have been
Certified

ITS THE STAFF THAT MAKE THIS HOTEL STAND OUT.

, Brandon, MB
2017-11-23
The staff at this hotel, go over and above, to make your stay as pleasant as they possibily can. I give them so much respect, dealing with thousands of people,on a daily basis, and for what they make, much respect. The beach is beautiful, some rooms are older, and food is 3 star, but getting better, all the time. But the staff, well they are very good freinds of mine now, love them all. [Details]
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Certified

Great resort!

, New Hamburg, ON
2017-09-22
Amazing hotel with amazing employees! It was a perfect vacation. Food was excellent. Staff were excellent. Evening entertainment was amazing. We have nothing bad to say about this resort. We will be going back next year! [Details]
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  • Food & Restaurants
The strong points
beach, pool, food, drinks, staff, entertainment
The weak points
none

Good Value

, Cornwall, ON
2017-06-11
Its my second time at Starfish the staff are very kind and the food is good. They have activities to keep you busy. My favorite is Cuban Day they have great food. The entertainment is good. I had a nice room with King-size bed. [Details]
  • Room
  • Quality - Price
  • Front desk & Reception
  • Beaches
  • Location
  • Bathroom
  • Staff / Crew
  • Cleanliness
  • Food & Restaurants
The strong points
Food is good, staff is friendly. I like the layout of the hotel.
The weak points
The only weak point is the stairs I had a room near elevator so all was well.
Certified

Bad and Terrible! Never Ever Again!!

, Aurora, ON
2017-06-09
1.  The Restaurants:

We were literally stunned and horrified on the first day on entering the buffet hall (which is the biggest and main restaurant in the resort) to see it is infested with flies. Tons of flies were flying around, eating with and competing with the resort guests. They were everywhere: on the foods cooked and raw (but bakery, the cold cuts and salad bar were the most hit war zones); on the dishes, bowls, glasses, knives, forks, napkins, ...; on the floor (especially where there had been spilling of soft drinks); and on our arms and faces!!  Despite the choices of food, we had to go for something that looked less attractive to the flies and therefore less likely to have been contaminated, like plain white rice and sausages immersed in boiling water, but then every time we had to scrap off the first layer of food in the trays since the flies must have had sitten on it to lick or lay their eggs there.  When we were eating, we had to consume the food fast and use our hands to constantly wave over it.  I would not be wrong to assume that there were more flies in the kitchen, going from raw to cooked foods and vice versa. Eating there in the restaurant was no enjoyment at all and was indeed unsafe.  I took a few pictures of the situation in the buffet restaurant but do not need to see them again to remind myself not to go back to this resort in Varadero.

There are two restaurants that offer a la carte dinners from 6 to 9:30. You have to make reservations. Only two dinners there are allowed no matter how many days your package is. This sounds like you can at least have two decent dinners in the resort. However, these restaurants, despite sporting a more elegant look, are also infested with flies. We still had to compete with insects for food. We had to eat fast. Our hands were busy hovering over the dishes. In fact, without taking even one bite in that Italian restaurant I told the waitress to take the basket of bread right away after seeing a couple of flies licking the food. She did. But I was quite sure she gave it to the guests at the next table afterwards. We had a small bite of the main course and we did not dare touch the desserts. We spent for about 15 minutes and then simply walked out of the restaurant.  It was a sheer waste of food and our time. What we got was only another big disappointment. The other day, I had a glimpse of the inside of one of these two a la carte restaurants (that Italian one) through the windows when it was not open.  I saw flies sitting on the glasses and tables. Many more must be in the kitchen waiting to launch attacks later in the day.

I know some people have said and would keep saying that we should give some allowance to things in Cuba. But we are talking about hygiene in restaurants in resorts and hotel-like establishments. I wonder how they could have passed the health inspections and got a licence to run a catering business. We are not talking about, say, volunteering in a slum or a war zone, when understandably we would anticipate having to eat in a sub-optimal condition. We are talking about food safety for which there should be no compromise. Do you want to have parasites in your body or bring diseases home to your loved families after and as a result of your vacation? Looking from another perspective, these hotel restaurant management and staff do not respect us, essentially. They do not show hospitality.  They do not care about customers' health. They have spoilt our holidays. And they have been wasting foods which are contaminated and simply not consumable.

2.  Service and Tipping:

Receiving tips for almost everything seems to be an established culture in the resort. You are expected to tip people for getting them to do something that is actually their job and responsibility. But then they have never done the job properly in the first place. It seems that you are made to feel obligated to tip even though the service provided (or not provided at all) is unsatisfactory or even mediocre.

A few minutes after moving into our room, a woman staff knocked on the door. She was murmuring something that could not be understood. Then she stuck out her index finger. Only later did we figure out that she wanted one CUC from us. But we had just moved in with our luggage. We had not even sitten down for some rest!  Apparently, she thought that we had the obligation to pay her one CUC as the previous guests had not left behind a coin before checking out. Or had they already?

I have heard some people said that we should understand that many Cubans are poor and earn a low wage and that therefore we should be generous when it comes to tipping. That I am afraid is a misconception and in any event a wrong approach. Do not forget Cubans earn not as much but their cost of living is low. And those who work in the resort industry earn much more than the other Cubans. Tipping should be associated with appreciation for good services but is not (and cannot be) a replacement for philanthropy. Otherwise, tipping would be an act of insult. Since some time ago these resorts staff must have been subjected to this kind of "conditioned training" - even though they are lazy and have not done their job they would nevertheless be tipped. An unwritten rule that they have to be tipped has gradually been made.  And they do not (and will never) know that they (and the resorts themselves) have to work hard to provide service and make improvements to make guests feel genuinely satisfied and attract their coming-back.

Yes. We were quite pleased to see in our room a towel nicely folded into a swan's shape, but it was definitely not pleasant to see insects on the bed, smell and lie on a filthy pillow and use bed-sheets unchanged for days.

In the buffet restaurant you would receive better treatment from the staff who cook spaghetti and fry an egg for you. You cannot possibly miss it. There is a small dish with money on it, just beside the stoves. But then even if you pay there is no guarantee that they will do their job well. You may end up having all pieces of fish not having been well done. But do not blame them. You have been told before going to Cuba that you need Hepatitis A and B vaccines!

For those, like me, who would like to have some really hot and freshly-made pancake or fried egg for breakfast, there is a guarantee that you will get an added attitude from the staff doing the pan-frying.  He will make it for you with great reluctance while gossiping with his colleague standing next to him in their own language.  Although you may not understand their conversation, his body language has betrayed him giving you a strong message that you are so fussy in making him doing extra work while those ready-made pancakes (staled and cold) and fried eggs (staled and cold) can be found in the buffet area.  During a week of stay, I witnessed some other guests also had the aforementioned experience. What kind of hospitality is this!!!  Do they deserve your tipping???

3.  Facilities:

Many facilities do not work and need to be fixed.

During our 7-day stay, only one of the four outdoor pools near the fitness room was not under maintenace but then that one was only open for a few hours. The water was stagnant and not clean.  There is by the way not any indoor pool in the resort and these four pools are larger than that more popular one by the buffet restaurant. They are not big anyways.

The fitness room was only open for a few hours each day. Most of the electrically-powered equipment did not work. And we were using the facility in a stuffy and extremely hot environment.

We had to change our room once but I heard many guests had to change a few times. There were a lot of ants. Some were on the bed and they woke us up by crawling onto our faces. We requested a room in a quiet corner but in the middle of the night we were woken up by some big noises generated from a garbage-dumping truck or two.  We then requested for another room the next day. The customer service staff Brian was not helpful. Finally, he gave us a room that he assured is quiet. But of course he did not tell us that it was close to the disco centre from which we got unwanted noise every evening until at least 10. The light bulb on the ceiling was missing. On our request they put one back in, but when the light was switched off flashes of light were emitting like a stroboscope. We were not sure if it was electrically safe.

By the way, the staff who checked us in when we arrived was not helpful either. When we had to go back to him for help after having failed to locate our room, he showed some attitude and made us wait. Of course, he was at the time busy with his mobile phone.

4.  A few are good:

There were a couple of staff who, despite the bad management of the resort, deserve to be complimented. They are Filippe the bartender at the pool side bar and Nancy the bartender on the BP Level. Also, in spite of the very unacceptable hygiene conditions, the cooks in the buffet restaurant deserve some compliments for making a wide variety of dishes, most of which, however, we did not even taste because of the flies.

5.  Conclusion:

I do not have any idea as to how the other resorts in Cuba are managed but am sure I would not recommend Starfish Varadero to anyone. It was a waste of time, a waste of our holiday and a waste of money. I do not know if those who found it fine or even awesome said so simply because they are too eager to be nice (unnecessarily nice) and wanted to appear as nice. They are eager to over-kill by dispensing excessive courtesy.  Many countries and places are poor but they are nice to and respectful for travellers in all sense. The foods they offer in restaurants may be simple or even uninteresting in taste but they are at least safe to eat. And they have exhibited improvements over time.

We have to be objective when we come to giving reviews on tourist accommodations. I know some people wanted to be nice but you are essentially depriving the Cubans of opportunities to know they need to make improvements. You would also be misleading our fellow travellers, who should be given a full and objective picture so that they can make their right choice. We are not talking about volunteering in a secluded place or slum somewhere in the world. If we are, we know that we will be spending days in a not-that-good living condition.  We should not blind ourselves to something that is obviously not right (like poor hygiene and hospitality staff work attitude) that could have been improved if we had given our genuine comments. [Details]
  • Room
  • Quality - Price
  • Front desk & Reception
  • Beaches
  • Location
  • Bathroom
  • Staff / Crew
  • Cleanliness
  • Food & Restaurants
The strong points
None.
The weak points
Unacceptable hygiene. Attitude of staff. (See my hotel review.)

Planning to go back in the future

, Wallaceburg, ON
2017-04-12
My husband and I spent a week at the Starfish, we are planning to go back in the future when the renovations are complete. My only suggestion is to advise people that the bungalows are in a central location so that people with difficulties walking etc can make an informed decision to spend the little bit extra to upgrade to a bungalow. Make sure you stop in at the Trinidad bar to say hello and spend the 5 CUC to take the double decker bus into Varadero. Overall it was exactly what we needed to relax and unwind! [Details]
  • Room
  • Quality - Price
  • Front desk & Reception
  • Beaches
  • Location
  • Bathroom
  • Staff / Crew
  • Cleanliness
  • Food & Restaurants
The strong points
Very friendly and helpful staff, serve the best coffee in the world
The weak points
A lot of walking, understandably a lot of construction
Certified

Starfish is a 3 star resort

, Trenton, ON
2017-04-07
We had good time. So first of all Starfish is a 3 star resort. If you book a holiday with Starfish don,t expect 5 Star. Its is what it is.
We did upgrade to Bungalow. It was clean and Comfortable. Thee maid looked after us everyday. She did a fine job. We did NOT have any issues with Hot water or toilets flushing. Food was edible. Some was good some bad. After a few days you get to know what you like. I liked the grill cooked fresh for you. They are improving the resort all over the place. Seen lots of new paint even seen new tile going down on floors. The resort is in need of the upgrades. They have two pools. One pool is where all activity's are going on during the day. The 2nd pool is the quiet pool. You have a choice what you want. Beach is fantastic. Check in was very slow. Was not impressed with that. Then Wendy came and helped us. Got things moving and had Bungalow in no time! If you have any issues with room. Ask to see Wendy. Or ask for new room! Heard of people moving two three times till they found good room. That's why you should book Bungalow. The location of Bungalow is also in middle of resort. The employees work very hard to make you happy. We where traveling with our handicapped Daughter. She made good friends with Nancy who works Coffee bar on second floor of lobby. Nancy works afternoons. Stop over to see her. Fantastic person. If you look around resort you will see old military underground bunkers. They are all around resort property. Tried to find out about the history? None of employees seemed to know why they are there. Maybe not allowed to talk about them? Cool to see anyways. So We had good time. Nice to see all upgrades the Starfish resorts are doing. Hope they keep going. Resort has great potential. Will I go back? Im undecided. Lots of places to explore in this world. Like to move on. Wife says she would like to return. We will see.Feel free to email me any questions. Will do my best to help you. Paul sknkmn@hotmail.com [Details]
  • Room
  • Quality - Price
  • Front desk & Reception
  • Beaches
  • Location
  • Bathroom
  • Staff / Crew
  • Cleanliness
  • Food & Restaurants
The strong points
The employees work very hard to make you happy.
The weak points
Check in was very slow.

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